Another week passed before I went back to Pots et des Casseroles. I was hoping that it would get more interesting but it didn’t. Cook after cook came in looking for last minute tools for their Saturday evening dinners. Engaging with the customers might have been fun, but my brief encounters with them were consumed by tedious questions: Have you shopped with us before? Would you like to be in our database? What’s your email address? Is this a gift registry purchase?They were all questions I hated answering as a customer and I hated even more as a cashier. Cashier wasn’t even the position that I was hired for. I was hired as a sales associate, someone who could sell a silpat or a Vitamix blender because I could attest that they were the allies of any home cook. I was not someone who could process a credit card transaction or turn a gift card into a Le Creuset French oven. I was good at the subjective and terrible at the objective; in fact, I’m pretty sure I sent someone away without charging them for more than $100 in cake pans because I couldn’t wrap my head around a simple transaction. This was not my forte.
On this particular Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to take the money from a handsome, young home cook. He was average in height with wild salt and pepper hair and the beginnings of a beard. He looked strikingly similar to Eric Dane – also known as McSteamy on Grey’s Anatomy — only slightly freckled. He was buying a roasting pan.
Struck by his good looks, I asked him, “What are you roasting?”
Smiling and delighted to engage he answered, “I’m doing a trial run for a Christmas pork roast.”
“Ohh.. I love pork roast. What are you doing to it to make it Christmasy?”
Actually, I didn’t really like pork roast, but I wanted to talk to this guy.
“Cranberry glaze, cloves and apples.”
“Cranberries are the best. Nothing says ‘holiday’ to me like cranberries. Do you have any guinea pigs for your test run?”
“Just a really smart Jack Russell.”
“Aww. That’s a very lucky dog, then,” I flirted — even though I don’t flirt.
Though I didn’t have all that much respect for my boss at my day job, he did introduce me to the art of cooking pork.
The first big project I had as his minion was making pulled pork sandwiches for 200 people. I was intimidated and, not being a huge meat eater, I wasn’t convinced that this would make a pleasing meal for high school students. I was so wrong. It was as irresistible as bacon. Every piece was almost tender enough to melt in my mouth and versatile enough to make barbecue sandwiches or pork tacos. I was certain this had the power of converting anyone from vegetarianism. Convert me, at least. Except that I was never a strict vegetable worshiper.
- 5 lb pork shoulder
- Barbecue spice*
- Apple juice
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place in Dutch or French oven fat side up.
Fill about half the pot with apple juice.
Dry roast for about 20 minutes at 350F.
Cover and reduce heat to 250F. Cook for about three hours. Meat will be falling off the bone when it’s ready.
- ⅓ cupbrown sugar
- 3 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder